Friday, 20 September 2013

Day out with Dan (18th September)

It's been a long time since I've been birding around Cornwall and it was equally great to meet up with Dan again for a days birding around the SW.  Our first destination was Pendeen for an early seawatch.  Admittedly, we weren't as early as we should have been as we scrambled down the cliff at about 7:30am to begin our seawatch.

The sea appeared productive from the start and it was great to get a different angle on the birds especially after familiarising myself with a lower angle on the birds whilst seawatching at Spurn earlier in the month.  Picking up other peoples birds an additional challenge as the distance to the horizon is far greater covering a larger area of open sea from a higher angle on the cliff.  As a result, it took some time before I had my eye in the game.  It soon became clear that a good proportion of the passage was occurring relatively close inshore, making ID conveniently more easy (although the majority of distant passage was ignored).

After a considerable amount of fidgeting about (trying to find the most comfortable spot with the least exposure to the rain) I was finally able to enjoy the occasional Sooty Shearwaters go past along with the odd Balearic Shearwater.  A continues stream of other seabirds also made for an attractive backdrop as they included many more Gannets, Manx Shearwaters a trickle of Bonxies, 2 Common Scoter, a couple Arctic Skuas and even 2 Basking Sharks.  The majority were passing at rather close range to cliff and it was thanks to this that we also connected with an impressive 7+ LEACH'S PETRELS.  I was too intent on seawatching so the notebook didn't even get opened, hence my poor recollection of the numbers we saw.

Yet another Leach's had just been called and a couple people were commenting on the nearby Peregrine that was agitating the bird.  Thankfully I locked eyes on the Leach's for a couple seconds as it pattered its was casually over the surface of the water oblivious to the danger.  It was at that moment that the Peregrine swooped in and grabbed the petrel from behind before banking upwards and carrying it off back to land!  It was an incredible sight and an amazing experience (unfortunate for Leach's) but it still made all who connected gasp!!

We were also treated to a brief view of two raptors shooting across the sea together and interacting with each other in mid-flight.  At least one was identifiable as a MERLIN!

Moving on, Dan and I left at 12:30pm, content with what we had seen to continue with a WeBS count at Helston Boating Lake, Loe Pool, Hayle Kimbro and Croft Pascoe Pool.

We stopped at Marazion briefly for a short walk along the beach and checked the muddy margins to the marsh but to little avail.  A surprisingly late Clouded Yellow at the marsh was probably the highlight but 3 White Wagtails on the beach were equally pleasing, although not quite as exotic.

Our next stop was Helston Boating Lake and whilst Dan checked the lake, I had a quick wander around the sewage farm and connected with a single Grey Wagtail before jumping in the car and headed for the Lizard.  I just about managed a quick peak at the Whooper Swan as we drove past.

Loe Pool was rather quiet and with much of the morning and early afternoon already gone, there wasn't much remaining other than a brief burst from the local Cetti's Warbler and two minute scan offshore in less than ideal conditions produced a couple very distant Gannets.

Hayle Kimbro was next and we even went to the extent of wading shin deep in the water, only to flush 2 Snipe and a couple of Mallards.  Croft Pascoe wasn't too different as 2 Little Grebes were the only highlight here.

A quick check at Stithians on the way back to asses the water level for future trips.  It was the lowest I've seen it but still no waders, just a Fox and a couple Wigeon among the Teal.

Penryn River had a dozen or so Curlew, Redshank and 2 Oystercatchers (a slight increase on recent figures apparently).

Thanks again to Dan for all the driving, much appreciated!

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